Just one day before the release of Marcus Samuelsson's new memoir Yes, Chef, Eddie Huang takes to the Observer to write that Samuelsson's Harlem restaurant Red Rooster is "an embarrassing exercise in condescension." Huang argues that "much like the book, [Red Rooster] fails in its goal of paying homage to the neighborhood."
By catering to diners from outside Harlem and promising "elevated" soul food, Huang believes that the extremely popular restaurant treats the neighborhood like "a museum exhibit."
The article particularly takes aim at Samuelsson's use of stereotypes and what Huang sees as the chef's general misreading of the neighborhood. On the fact that Samuelsson decided to open the place right smack on 125th Street and doesn't offer take out: "It's like buying your Chinese grandmother an apartment marked No. 4; the fact that you don’t accept her superstitions says more about your environment and upbringing than anything else... I blame the media and the puppeteers enabling this fairytale."
After pointing to several restaurants that better represent the neighborhood but don't get enough attention, Huang delivers his point in a nutshell: "What [Samuelsson] doesn’t realize about Harlem, soul food and perhaps himself is that they’re all good enough already. It’s the rest of the world that needs to catch up."
· Marcus Samuelsson’s Overcooked Memoir Makes His Pricey Harlem Discomfort Food Hard to Swallow [Observer]
· All Marcus Samuelsson Coverage on Eater [-E-]